Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's Been a Wacky Year.... A Look Back on 2013

You guessed it. This is my annual look back at the year blog entry!

2013 was interesting to say the least, for all aspects of my life, real, online and the writing part of it.

My first completed manuscript, "No Regrets" (Book 1, formerly "Untitled 7"), went through several perking and editing cycles during the year, and in early November, was deemed "as perfect as I can get" and ready to submit to various publishers around the globe. Who got it, any interested parties and any rejections on that manuscript is strictly confidential and only a select handful of people know about any of it. I will only say anything publicly AFTER I sign any contracts and when and where I know it will be available for purchase. 

As a lot of you remember, my writing batteries were still in "recharging" mode at the start of the year, and I was having a lot of problems getting what was dubbed "Untitled 8" on the go at the time, and how frustrated I was with myself for not being able to get the story moving. In January, I had tried getting things moving with the RH rewrite/overhaul and that wasn't working, neither was getting "Untitled 8" (now "Book 2" or Family Portraits) off the ground, and I was going crazy. I finally got a new digital camera at the start of the month and started setting up a few things to create some original photographs with props for my own use and possible cover photos for Sandra Durham's second book in her Keyholder's Castle series (published on currently). 

Sandra's second and third books were published via The second one, "Damnation and Trial" was published in March, and the third, "Destinies", was published in May.

Thankfully, concentrating on that and doing something creative helped, because the next time I opened that manuscript file, I noticed a few things that were throwing me off and decided to scrap what I was using to start it, and went with something else. That DID help, and I did start getting into it a little bit, although I wasn't sure how the story would go or how it would even end. Sandra was a godsend, by listening to me rant about my lack of progress and helping me with brainstorming ideas for the story during the first two months of 2013.

The end of January saw me becoming an aunt for the fourth time, thanks to my sister. I now have one nephew (age 16 1/2 at the time this blog was posted) and three nieces (almost 14 years old, 3 years old and 11 months old at the time this blog was posted), all thanks to my younger sister. Little A is one adorable girl, and she is a happy child, according to my sister and mother. I have met her, and love her to death, just like I love all of my sister's older children. I'm hoping to see them all soon, and may even see my mom this weekend, if things work out just right!

It wasn't until March was underway that, thanks to Sandra, Book 2/Family Portraits took off like a shot out of a gun. She had an idea zoom through her head and suggested it to me. The instant I saw her idea, I could actually see and hear everything that was going on during a few of the scenes and ran with it. Her idea IS in the final product and thanks to her, Family Portraits/Book 2's ending was conceived! I knew a few things that were going to be in the book but wasn't sure on what else to slap in until I saw that fateful message from her. When an idea is so good you can see all of it happening in your head within seconds, RUN WITH IT! 

Sandra's little idea wound up being the basis for most of the entire build up to the finale and everything else in between... Seriously! More on that later though...

Spring saw my dear son do something that proves to the world that kids on the autism spectrum CAN do more than "flip burgers" (quote from someone I cut out of my life about 7 years ago and who I will never let them back into it!)... He took second place in all of the grade 2 students in the Mental Math competition for our district at the Education Festival, which was held at my old high school. He went into Grade 3 with mostly As and Bs with a couple of Cs, and top math student in his grade!

It also saw me starting to write like a squirrel on speed as I started building up toward the gem that Sandra shot at me in March. As the school year started winding down, things were really moving with it. I was around Chapter 26 when school got out for the summer and although I was going batty, I managed to survive despite not being able to write a lot, even at night. The mosquito population was terrible this past year due to a lot of rain. We live between two lakes and that didn't help much either, so I wound up spending most of the time slapping mosquitoes and being so darn distracted that I didn't get much done in an hour, even with the scene RIGHT THERE in my mind. *SIGH* 

Even with the late night problems, thanks to my husband, I managed to get a couple of chapters out of the way in the first couple of weeks of summer vacation. I basically gave up on writing at night for the entire month of July and into August, until I knew the provincial bird population had dropped a lot. By the time mid August rolled around, I was into Chapter 29, and a lot further along than I had hoped to be in the manuscript that close to the end of the summer.

On August 19th, I officially launched my Facebook Author's page, my author's profile and a new look for my blog here. I had chosen my pen name quite some time ago - thanks to help from several of my friends, and it's one I really like! - so the name of the page and the profile were officially changed that day, and had a new banner installed on each of them. My new blog look is the same one I have now, with the sky photo in the background and the black font. It's the same photo I use on my Twitter profile, and the same one I used to create banners for my author profile and page, and my personal/real name profile in Facebook.

Two weeks later, I officially launched my author's website and in the months since then, I've added links to where people can find me - Twitter, Google+, Facebook and this blog, and a photograph of me so people know what I look like.

Son started Grade 3 with eagerness and has one of the teacher's assistants that he had last year, the one who was with him in the afternoons. Unfortunately, we also said goodbye to the TA who had been with him since Grade primary. We loved Mrs. O and although we miss her a lot, we adore Mrs. T as well, and like Mrs. O, she's great with our boy. Again, he's top math student in his grade, and working ahead in that subject. No surprise, and I won't be surprised if he's invited to participate in the Grade 3 mental math competition this year....

Whom Gods Destroy played at two venues over the summer - Benstock in August and Local Only in early September. I was lucky enough to be able to go watch them both times, even though I kinda missed most of their set at Benstock. That said, what I did see was great, and really enjoyed both concerts. They featured local music at both and I loved hearing other local musicians strutting their stuff! All of you who read my blog and know me, know that music is as vital to me as writing. I can't sing or play an instrument to save my life, but I love it and respect and admire anyone who is talented in that area of the creative realm!

Well, after Son went back to school, things once again took off with Book 2/Family Portraits. Even with having to get a new computer - thanks to my Vista one dying - by the time the first week of October was finished, I was into Chapter 36. Not bad for only a month's worth of writing PART TIME! 

Thanks to my mind running in overdrive for the next month, I managed to finish draft one of Book 2/Family Portraits on October 30th, quite a while before I expected it to happen. Like its predecessor, No Regrets/Book 1 - which starts off the series - I basically zoomed through the final ten or so chapters of it. Of course, having a lot of that written up already - the Gem that Sandra shot at me - did help, but there were a lot of things I had to wrap up, like finish that area and its aftermath, then get into the finale and finally wrapping things up so tightly that not even I could write another sequel... Unless I want to, of course. I'm not saying I will "never" write another sequel to this series, I'm saying "it's not likely". I said that before and wound up eating my words.........

Like I've said before, No Regrets/Book 1 did have a lot of unanswered questions that nagged at someone after they read it, so it's only natural that I would wind up writing a sequel to it, and finally get around to answering them. Thankfully, No Regrets hadn't been sent out to any publishers that are still in business today, so I could make all of the necessary changes in it that would make it line up with Book 2/Family Portraits a lot more. I was inserting a few things here and there into No Regrets while Family Portraits was still being written, but it wasn't until after Family Portraits was in its first perk cycle that things were really added to make things coinside a lot easier and better. I'm not saying what was added, those who have read the earlier drafts of that story know what was in there before and what is in its final, perfected draft. 

I used some of the squirrel on speed energy I had from not having anything to write to perfect the grammar, proofing, formatting and overall story in No Regrets, and that was finally stamped "Perfect as I can get it" on November 7th. 

In the weeks since then, I've not only gotten an idea for a new story that I've dubbed Untitled 9 at the moment, I've actually started it, even if it's only a page of stuff. That idea is a combination of two ideas from Sandra and another one of my closest writing friends (two other fellow authors), and although it hasn't really taken off yet, it may in the new year. Thanks Sandra and G! I do have a lot of material from researching, and need more, so I'm going to be doing that in between different things, like more photography and trying NOT to lose it each time I submit my work to a publisher!

Yes, we lost a few that were near and dear to our hearts, and we had a lot of ups and downs, but for the most part, I'd say that 2013 was a great year for a lot of us... I saw my mentor publish two more books in her series and saw her start the fourth one, saw another friend publish a collection of poems, met a lot of great people via various writing hang outs and other great places to put the feet up and relax online, and I was just surrounded by so many wonderful, loving and supportive people this past year. I'm so grateful to the divine and fates for every little blessing they've given me, and thank each and every single person who has been there for me, from the good times to the bad times. 

Yeah, 2013 may have been a wild ride, but I enjoyed it... Even if my brain was in a writing fog for a good part of the year! 

I'm hoping 2014 is just as fun, if not better. One of my new year's wishes is to get on with a great publisher and finally see my dream of becoming an author come true. I'd be flying really high if and when that happens!

Have a safe, fun and happy new year everyone! I'll be back with updates in 2014! All the best, to all of you, now and always.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Looking a Lot Like... Spring?

No joke. Right now, although there is ice on the ground and some snow here and there, outside looks more like March or early April than it resembles December and the first of winter here. Today into tomorrow, we're getting rain and freezing rain, and it's really confusing to me to see this kind of thing outside instead of snow falling. Although we've been in the deep freeze - or what's considered "below seasonal" for my end of Canada - it still doesn't feel like winter to me yet, even with the tree up and preparations for Christmas being well underway.

In other news, my brother in law's cat Tippy isn't doing so great right now. He's at the vet, with a feeding tube, and we're hoping he'll get better so he's home in time for Christmas... But it's not looking good, he's diabetic and that's complicating things. I ask that anyone who reads this keeps Tippy in their thoughts and if they want to, say a prayer to their chosen deity for him and my in laws. All of us love that cat a lot, and we would love to see him come home, healthy and happy.

Writing wise, not much has been happening with me... I haven't gotten into Untitled 9 yet and things have been slow in coming to me. 

That said, my mentor Sandra did get a copy of Book 2 and she's been trying to read it in between working on her fourth book and getting things ready for the holidays at her house. So far, only a couple of things have cropped up, and I have corrected them in Draft three of the manuscript, but she's only at the start of Chapter 14 at the moment. There's still a lot of book to cover, and I suspect I will have a number of revisions to do by the time she's finished. By the way, the current title of Book 2 is "Family Portraits"... Y'all will get why I chose that name when you read it. *wink*

Other than that, not much else is going on here other than the usual zaniness that happens for us around the holidays and me compiling the highlights of 2013 for my annual look back at the last year. Things are quiet in the writing arena for me so I probably won't be doing any more updates until the ultra long annual year end blog.

To all of my readers, friends, family and fans...

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, or one of the other wonderful holidays December has to offer... All the best in 2014, everyone, and have a safe, fun and magical holiday, from our home to yours!   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Revisions, Rewrites, Compressions and Other Things...

I have been trying to get the new idea off of the ground, but it's not quite gelling yet. That tells me I may need another month or so away from forcing myself to write to let the batteries recharge a little more. It's hard going from one book to another sometimes, especially if it's a new idea with brand new characters, situations, pasts and everything else, or it is in my case. This is an idea that came to me this past month or so, courtesy of two good friends of mine that are also fellow authors, so I'm still trying to get into synch with it and get things moving along in that one.

That said, a lot happened in Book 2's edits. This past week, I reread the entire manuscript from start to finish and got a lot of the compressions, rewrites, editing and overhauls of certain spots completed in the meantime. So far, it's looking a lot better and closer to my standards for a second draft of a manuscript. It's still not there yet, and there is still a lot to do in it before I can do another huge copy/paste into a new document and put it into Draft Three. 

The formatting is up to Draft Three now. Chapters now start on a new page, just like a lot of publishers like, it's in "justified" alignment (meaning the text is lined up with both left and right margins), and a lot of other things. I had written this one in Times New Roman size 12 from the start, so I'd have a lot less to do in later drafts, and I also put it with indentations at the start of a paragraph from the time I started draft one of this manuscript, again so I don't have as much to do that way in later drafts. There are one inch (2.5 cm) margins all around and I am liking the way the formatting on this one looks at this point in time.

The major edit that was bothering me this week was in the final ten pages of the manuscript. I had written things up one way, but decided it would be too boring for the reader, so I switched things around and it looks and reads a lot better now. The reader will see a lot of loose ends tied up, and no more questions about certain things will still be there at the end of this one. 

I'm not saying I'll "never" write another book with that cast of characters, I'm saying it's "not likely". Look what happened the last time I said "never"... I don't want to eat my own words again, so I'm being cautious from now on!

When Book 2 goes into Draft Three mode, I will be sending a copy to Sandra, for her reading pleasure. I hope she likes it as much as she liked Book 1/"No Regrets"....

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'll update if anything new happens here writing wise, and my annual look back at the year will be coming up either later this month or first thing in January. Watch for it!